Ellen Alaverdyan, age 11, has a mature approach for learning bass

When it comes to learning bass, 11-year-old Ellen Alaverdyan is wise beyond her years, nailing grooves by Geddy Lee, Victor Wooten, and Paul McCartney.

By Jon Liebman
July 14, 2023

Every time I interview a bass player, it’s inspiring. There’s always a new insight, a new perspective, a new way to look at playing bass and learning bass.

I found this week’s interview especially inspiring. It focuses on learning bass in a way that supports the band by laying down the foundation with the drummer and having a good time.

Truthfully, I hear that a lot during my interviews. The reason this one hit me like a ton of bricks was that it came from an 11-year-old girl.

Her dad started her off early

Ellen Alaverdyan is a bass prodigy. Somewhat of a social media star, Ellen has become widely known for her portrayals of iconic bass grooves by some of her favorite bass players, like Geddy Lee, Victor Wooten, and Paul McCartney.

Ellen, who’s a fan of funk, classic rock “and sometimes disco,” she says, discovered music through her father, Hovak, a music producer.

When I asked her what she thought the role of the bass player should be, she said, “Support. And to kind of hold the groove. That’s kind of the job of the bassist and the drums.”

Wow. That’s what I hear myself preaching all day long. I cut her some slack for the “kind ofs.” She is, after all, 11. What’s important is that she gets it. She understands the gig and is focused on doing it well.

Teaching kids (and everyone else) what to learn

One of the things that’s especially impressive about Ellen is how happy she is to lay down the groove, without getting too busy or showy.

I couldn’t help but wonder what she thought of some of the videos on YouTube of people doing all kinds of technically impressive feats that, at the end of the day, have nothing to do with the true role of the bass player. 

I asked Ellen if she found it satisfying to be a bass groover, just layin’ it down, as opposed to trying to emulate some of the stuff she might see on YouTube.

“Yeah, I’m happy with just that,” she said, to my delight. “Maybe one or two, like maybe some really hard stuff, but I’m not going to really go into that.” 

It looks like her dad has been a good teacher and a healthy influence when it comes to learning bass. 

Keeping the goal in mind

With her sights set on a professional career in music, Ellen and her dad have a strong partnership. “We’re starting a band,” Ellen says, “but we’re still trying to find a drummer.”

Ellen, who learned most of her bass grooves by reading tabs, is also working on strengthening her sight reading abilities. “Right now,” she says, “I’m still learning how to read rhythms and how to read notes.”

I asked Ellen what advice she has for someone who wants to learn bass. “Enjoy it,” she said, without batting an eye.

How about you?

Do you want to learn bass in a way that’ll have you laying down the groove, setting the foundation for the band, and having a whole lot of fun in the process? If an 11-year-old can understand those concepts, surely you can too! Your first step is to join the Bottom Line Club. Start by clicking here.

Comments on Ellen Alaverdyan, age 11, has a mature approach for learning bass

  1. kim moon says:

    I have been an Ellen fan for almost the entire time she has been playing. Her competency and progression have been meteoric, yet she is as humble and soft spoken now as ever.
    She definetly has made an impact on thousands of people. I have always said I play a great stereo! I never had the chance to learn music, but I know good stuff when I hear it. She will have an excellent career in her future as long as her influencers remain positive and focused. Great interview. And I know from my own experience its hard to get an 11 year old to expound on anything.. Open ended questions are the soup de jour with them. If you ask them a yes or no question, thats what you get! take care.

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Glad you liked the interview, Kim. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Joe Dashiell says:

    Hold the groove. Spot on

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      You got it, Joe. Thanks!

  3. Rob Quider says:

    I discovered Ellen about 6 months ago, and she puts a smile on my face every time I see her videos. I’m 66 years young and have only been playing bass for about 2 and a half years. I also learned relatively quickly during the pandemic, since I no longer needed to spend 2 hours a day commuting to work. I retired in February 2023, and am now fully devoted to honing my bass playing skills. Ellen has been one of my inspirations to keep advancing, as I share her passion and joy playing the low notes and holding down a groove. She is wise beyond her years and is obviously an inspiration for many others. Who knows, maybe someday, I’ll be blessed to share a stage with her. Young and “old” bass prodigies just enjoying the groove!

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Nice tribute, Rob. And welcome to the low end! I’m glad you found some inspiration from Ellen. Keep on groovin’!

  4. Jeff Berlin says:

    Groove is an overstated concept. Groove also can interfer with practice since the goals of learning and groove are oposite concepts. The formula for live or recorded bass playing includes playing the right notes, playing one’s style in a legitimate manner, and provide a good bass tone. It might surprise some to know that in playing a good bass line, groove is always last while notes are always first. I hope that these thoughts make sense. Sending best regards, Jeff

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Hi, Jeff. Thanks for weighing in. I think everyone agrees that you have to be able to play the notes before you’re able to make music. When you refer to playing “in a legitimate manner,” to me that means grooving, making the music feel good. If you don’t agree, I’m sure we can still find some common ground. 🙂 Love you, man!

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